Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pollo al Vino de Ivonne (Ivonne's Cuban Chicken in Wine Sauce)

"Pollo al Vino" translates to "Chicken in Wine" I learned this recipe through my blog buddy/ friend Ivonne from her blog Cuban in the Midwest (which is one of the must check blogs along with mine if you like Cuban Cuisine, besides my blog her's is the most complete I've seen dedicated to the Cuisine of Cuba, so like I said a must check if your trying to explore Cuban culture through a culinary perspective)

Anyways back to the recipe, this stew is a nice change from the other typical Cuban stews in that it contains NO TOMATO products in any form (no tomato sauce, or paste, ketchup or fresh tomatoes) most Cuban meat stews are stewed in a red tomato based sauce with wine, and this one offer's a nice change. It does have a reddish color, but that color is achieved from using paprika in the dish, the sauce is simply formed by stewing meat in very low heat with simply wine, and the Cuban holy trinity (onion, garlic, bell pepper) with spices, the meat will release it's own juices when simmered for awhile and the steam and stuff will cook everything perfectly and all everything just marry's well. It was a hit in my house :)

Growing up my grandmother always talked about Cuban meat stews that her father used that were made without tomato, they were used to stew meats like goat, lamb, duck, rabbit, and chicken, however my grandma never really made them so I never had the opportunity to try it, so when I saw a recipe that resembled what my grandma had spoken about I was like "I need to try it!" my grandma has shared a recipe with me from what she remembers, but I was doubtful of them because I was like "well if it has no water just wine and stuff won't it evaporate and the meat kinda burns idk) but it turns out it didn't lol. from trying Ivonne's recipe that technique works, but yeah i have never gotten to making it. (it's similar to Ivonne's but spiced different and the result seems to give you a dark brown sauce I will share it someday)

I did modify the recipe a bit but overall it's the same way she made it, only difference, I stewed the potatoes and carrots from the very beginning with the meat, and browned the meat prior to stewing it and sauteeing aromatics :) I recommend this dish to anyone ya'll need to try it! :)

-1 whole chicken (cut into segments, remove skin, wash, drain and rinse several times, I have hte habit of cleaning it like 2 times, then giving it a last wash with vinegar, salt, nad water then drain and pat-dry. I do this because I like getting rid of the little taste some meats may have...)
-ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp.)
-sweet smoked Spanish paprika (1 1/2 teaspoons)
-salt to taste (I used 2 teaspoons to rub all over the chicken)
-1 green bell pepper chopped
-1 onion chopped
-6-8 cloves garlic minced
-1 cup dry white wine or dry sherry
-2 bay leaves
-3 large potatoes, peeled cut into 3 sections or cut in two
-3 carrots, peeled and cut horizontally, or in rounds your choice
-6 large Pimiento stuffed green olives cut into 3 sections, or 12 small one (I think canned black one's seedless would work too)

(1) Place cleaned chicken in a bowl and run in/ toss well and coat well with salt, pepper, and paprika.
(2) Brown it in batches in olive oil, over high or medium high heat. Afterwards i set it aside in a deep pot
(3) In the same pan you browned the chicken sautee onions, garlic, bell pepper over medium high stirring occasionally making sure to scrape any browned bits, de-glaze with 1 cup of wine, and bring to a rolling boil
(4) Toss the sauteed onion, garlic, bell pepper and wine mixture into the pot with the chicken, throw in potatoes, carrots and olives. I added 1/2 cup water to this just incase it needed more liquid to cook. Bring to a rolling boil covered, for about 1 minute or 2. Then lower heat to low and simmer covered for about 45 minutes. And ta-daaa you should end up with this

Monday, May 9, 2011

Menudo Rojo (Red Mexican Tripe Stew)

Menudo in Mexican Cuisine is a soup made primarily of beef tripe (cows stomach) and beef foot or pork feet (depending on preferance) boiled with garlic, onion, spices and herbs which vary from cook to cook. There are two versions one in a rich red broth (which is what my mother makes) and a white one in a rich clear broth. Some versions include hominy in the stew other's completely omit it. (This depends on what part of Mexico you are at) it truly is a dish that varies a lot whether clear or red, or seasoned very simply with just salt, onion, garlic or versions with an array of spice blends and herbs.

The way it is served also varies from region to region, some serve it with flour tortillas, others with corn tortillas, some even with Bolillo (Mexican version of french bread/ rolls) garnishes, etc. can vary.

Anyways the version I grew up eating was ALWAYS in a red broth, made from dried chiles and tomatoes, and spices down here in Southern California at Restaurants, stores, family friends only twice in my lifetime have I had it with Hominy (once in a household in Texas that hosted a "Posada" and another time my mother's friend Carmen who asked for Hominy in it) The version my mom grew up on though was always red as well, and excluded the hominy and was served with corn tortillas.

Though growing up enjoying this soup occasionally we never prepared it at home ha ha, but over time asking around we got a real good recipe, and got around to making it, the recipe came from a family friend who's originally from Sinaloa, Mexico.

One day my mother was at her friend Carmen's house and Carmen's son delivered the most delicious Menudo my mom claims she has had, it was very fragrant, didn't have any gamey smell from the tripe or beef foot, and has a very complex taste that married well with everything she demanded to learn the recipe, and from that day fourth she's been making Menudo (it's only been about 2 years hehe) what makes this version of Menudo so special I think is the fresh mint in combination with the bay leaves which helps kill any off taste the Menudo may have, and the mint makes it more soothing to the stomach, it's also spiced with a combination of coriander seeds, cumin, and pepper which gives it a taste that's hard to describe but I'll tell you it's amazing. Then finished off by stirring in a strong red sauce of dried chile California which are actually very mild. The broth is always rich from the bones and cartilage in the pig feet, and the gelatine as well which is present in the stomach, the pectin in the chilies and tomato contribute to it's richness as well.

I also wanted to add that this soup is often used as a hangover cure too hehe, and is seen as very nutritious and healthy. Also very good for bone health. Enjoy the recipe is as follows :)

-4 lbs. beef tripe
-4 lbs. pork feet or beef foot (well cleaned ask butcher to remove toes, and slice down the center)
-1 whole large onion (outer skin peeled off)
-1 head of garlic (peel outer skin, leave whole)
-3 bay leaves
-1 bunch of fresh mint leaves and stems well washed
-1 tablespoon coriander seeds
-1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
-1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
-2 tablespoons salt (more to taste)
-16 dried "Chile California" (California chiles or New Mexico Chiles)
-2 large ripe tomatoes or 4 small roma tomatoes

Ingredients to serve:
-Finely minced onion (to serve in individual bowls)
-fresh limes (to squeeze over, the amount you add is to taste)
-dried oregano (to crumble over)
-fresh corn tortillas (you can roll them up and dip them in the hot broth as you eat and take a bite)

Directions to clean tripe and pigs feet:
(1) It is very important to clean the tripe real well, you buy it already cut up and cleaned, but afterwards remove any excess fat (like huge chunks of fat that maybe attached), rinse them in cold water several times, along with the big feets, and soak them in cold water, vinegar, and salt, swoosh them around and let them rest a bit like 10 minutes.
Then drain and wash well again, and drain using cold water. Set aside. At this point the tripe is ready to use.
(2) Get those pig feets you have to get each individual one, and this sounds gross but get a clean razor and remove any hair you may feel it still has (the stores usually shave the feet real well and stuff but sometimes there's some they miss). Now add the feet in a large pot with enough water to barely cover
and bring to a boil 10- 15 minutes, then drain (this is done to remove all impurities from it) Set aside they are ready to use.
Directions for boiling tripe and pigs feet:
(1) Heat a very large pot (VERY LARGE) half-way with water, add your garlic, onion, bay leaves, mint leaves, coriander seeds, ground cumin, ground black pepper, and salt.
When this comes to a boil, add the cleaned pigs feet and the tripe.
and the tripe.
(2) Cover and allow to simmer for about 3 hours until tender (you don't want to over cook it or let it get too tender it's nice to have that chew and not just jello)

(3) Meanwhile prepare the red sauce that you will add to the stew towards the last 30 minutes- 1 hour of cooking, made from the dried "Chile California's" and tomatoes along with garlic and onion
you remove the stems and seeds from the chiles, and cut the large tomatoes in half then cover with enough water to boil and allow to simmer about 10- 15 minutes. Then blend in small batches with 1/2 a raw onion and 2 raw garlic cloves peeled.
strain the mixture and set aside
(4) After 3 hours check your tripe and feet, if they are as tender as you'd like (seriously a long time ago my mom cooked this for like 5-6 hours and the texture was just too soft for our liking so 3 hours was good) it should look like below
At this point remove the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and any big pieces of whatever you stewed the meat with and add the strained red sauce
stir and the broth should turn a rich red color
simmer an additional 30 minutes
when done serve in bowls with minced onion, oregano, lime and fresh corn tortillas :)
I like to serve mine with lots of fresh minced onion, oregano, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
(1) For my readers in Spain who may not have access to these dried chiles you can use a combination of "Pimientos Choriceros secos" and "Nora Peppers" and access to corn tortillas is probably scarce so good crusty bread would do. I'm sure you'd still get a wonderful dish substituting those :)

(2) For any Mexicans that want this broth to be spicy substitute dried Guajillos for some of the Chile California. Maybe about 6.

(3) For those that like to add Hominy you can add 1 large can of Hominy (it's pre-cooked whole corn kernels but it's a different type of corn like the one used for Pozole) it has to be added 1 hour prior to turning the stew off, because they aren't completely cooked. My mother however omits it.